Is my son eating too many hotdogs?

My five-year-old son wants nothing to eat but hot dogs! When I yell breakfast, lunch or supper, he comes running to say "Is it hot dogs?" I recently heard that eating too many hotdogs could cause tumors. He eats at least that much a month! I really hope that the information I heard isn't true. Could you shed some light on this for me?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

The nutritional and ingredient content of hot dogs varies enormously depending on the variety that you buy. A particularly compelling reason to not serve too many, is their high fat content. A lifetime of too much fat can lead to certain types of cancers. However, you can buy low fat varieties.

One common theme amongst all hot dogs is the use of nitrates as a preservative. It is a common preservative in many cured meats. In hot dogs you will probably see it listed as sodium nitrite. After sodium nitrite is eaten, it can be converted to nitrosamines, which are very potent carcinogens. It is a big leap to say the eating hot dogs will cause tumors, however, the fact that an ingredient contained in them may contribute to the formation of a cancer causing chemical is certainly a good reason to limit their consumption. When you do allow hot dogs to be eaten, you can help to minimize the conversion of nitrites to nitrosamines by simultaneously serving a food high in an antioxidant, such as vitamin C or E. For example, serve a glass of orange juice with the hot dog, or some sweet red pepper strips.

Please be a careful reader of the ingredient panel. You may want to check out the hot-dog substitute, Tofu Pups. Perhaps you son will like those, and because they do not contain meat products, will not contain sodium nitrite.

I hope this little bit of light shed on the matter will help you to better decide how many hot dogs to allow your son to eat.

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